Winter is here and everybody is freaking out. Getting stuck on I-95 in a snowstorm sucks; I experienced something similar in 1993 on the New York State Thruway with my parents when we had to wait 7 hours in a blizzard to be rescued by a State Trooper outside of Rochester. Spending 3 nights at the Motel 45 in Victor was almost worse. We don’t deal well with snow or the cold here in New Jersey and the Canadian part of my DNA just tosses on some layers and winter boots and trudges onward.
My wife thinks I’m insane when I stand outside in line on Record Store Day; which is odd considering how hot it was all 3 times in 2021.
I’ve lived overseas and in different parts of North America and I’m more than willing to walk a mile (or 5) in bad weather for a nice bowl of steaming hot Pho with oxtail or some records from my local store.
I’m fortunate to live by the beach in New Jersey and it’s something that I’ve taken advantage of over the past 13 years; I can walk from my front door to the sand in under 10 minutes and I’m known locally as the crazy guy in the Red Wings hat who runs in the driving rain along the ocean at 5 in the morning.
It’s something that I need to do to be alone with my thoughts; one of the more obvious takeaways from the past 24 months is just how unhealthy we are as a society; both in the United States and Canada.
Your mental and physical health need to be the biggest priorities in your life. If you think spending endless hours on audio forums and Twitter are healthy forms of behavior — take it from someone who deals with mental heath issues and quit every audio forum over a decade ago — you only get to live once and your family will get shafted on Audiogon selling your stuff when you’re gone.
Living in the sticks, I spend a lot of time driving. My children are in college, high school, and elementary school. I drive to Binghamton at least 3 times each semester to visit my eldest. In a slow week, I drive 500 miles and I used to commute from New Jersey to Washington D.C. twice a week (for over two years).
With all of that in mind — it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I run 4 miles a day regardless of weather. My 51 year-old frame isn’t what it once was when I weighed 20 pounds less and played between the pipes multiple times a week.
I walk to the record store.
Growing up in Toronto, I would walk to Sam the Record Man from my house; more than 5 miles away. I will deny losing my subway token but at the end of the day, those walks in the cold and heavy snow were good for me.
I suggest that you do it as well if it’s possible. Even with your spouse or kids.
We’ve created a generation of snowflakes (pardon the pun) who need to be chauffeured around or their legs might hurt.
I walked to school from the age of six in blizzards. My parents didn’t care if we made it or not — still dealing with that in family therapy.
What to Wear
Don’t spend $800 on a Canada Goose jacket. Don’t be that guy.
As a runner, I’m big on baselayers because the technology has evolved and one can wear that under a sweater or vest the rest of the day. The Starbucks “Mommy” crowd will admire you from afar. Or from the front seat of their Range Rover.
Smartwool Merino 250 Baselayer Pattern Crew
I know it isn’t inexpensive, but 28 miles a week in these has proven to be a godsend.
Asbury Park isn’t exactly Ottawa or Montreal, but the winds off the ocean are bitter and this resists odors and dries very quickly. Getting the baselayer correct is more important than wearing some $800 winter coat.
KUHL Thor Full-Zip Fleece Jacket
Kuhl is a very good brand based out of Salt Lake City and as someone who is very hard on his clothing — this stuff lasts. It’s not as sexy as the pricier fleece jackets from Filson or Arc’teryx but it looks good and more importantly keeps you warm.
I’m 6’3″ and found the XL to be slightly large on me. It looks fantastic over a pair of jeans or chinos. The pockets could definitely be larger; no room for a smartphone or DAP.
Vest or Jacket?
I own both but I must confess that long heavy down jackets don’t appeal to me anymore because I don’t wear a suit to the office in 2022. I wore a suit for almost 15 years and I hated having to wear a long coat.
Vests don’t provide protection for your arms, but the baselayer and fleece are more than sufficient unless it’s really pouring outside.
I run in some torrential rain storms so the vest is really only for the cold, windy days or walks in moderate snowfalls.
The Jersey Shore gets more rain than snow so layers here with proper wind/rain protection is far more important.
Marmot Knife Edge Jacket
Marmot isn’t as trendy as Arc’teryx but this shell works superbly well over a vest, hoodie, and baselayer. The range of motion is superb, the Gore-Tex Paclite finish keeps me super dry, and this jacket has pockets that actually work with my iPhone higher up on my chest which is convenient when I have IEMs and I don’t want to open my coat in the rain to reach an interior pocket. The hood is excellent and I can wear a beanie under it.
Arc’teryx Atom LT Insulated Vest
I would never spend this kind of money on a vest had it not come with some strong recommendations from family and friends in Montreal and Toronto. I don’t buy into the puffy vest look and the Atom LT fits like a glove. The DWR-treatment keeps the insulation mostly dry and the vest is super lightweight. It’s perfect as a mid-layer or on days when the winds are not too strong.
Pants & Gutkas
Depending on the temperature, I wear a pair of long johns or gutkas (the fancy term is now thermals) when I run or under my pants when I walk long distance to the record store.
If you wear skinny jeans, these are not for you.
I have goalie legs and have put hundreds of miles on these in the cold over the years.
Smartwool Merino 250 Bottom
These merino bottoms are not itchy and they definitely keep you warm. The 250 model is probably better for those who live in bitterly cold environments like parts of New England, Michigan, Minnesota, and Canada.
They are definitely snug in the legs and calves and don’t bunch up under your pants making you look like you are wearing a diaper or your pajamas; that was definitely a thing growing up when you did wear your pajamas under your pants in the extreme cold.
I don’t wear jeans on these long walks (even with all of the Spandex) and generally alternate between 4 specific pairs of pants that have served me well over the years.
Huckberry sells a lot of overpriced clothing but they have never screwed me over when it comes to pants. I would generally scoff at the idea of spending so much on pants but Flint and Tinder, Proof, and Foehn do things properly.
Flint and Tinder 365 Pant
As long as it is not raining, the 365 pants are perfectly fine with some thermals for a very long trek in the cold and snow.
Proof Rover Pant
Mobility, durability, and perfect with thermals in the cold and snow. These are designed to get dirty and handle a good schlep.
Proof Meridian Pant
They look like fancy dress pants but are quick drying, stretchy, and never crease.
Foehn Brise Schoeller Pant 2.0
More durable than the Proof Rover pants, water-resistant, and designed for running and crate digging on the floor. Most certainly not cheap but something you can wear around town.
I thought they looked kinda stupid until I actually wore them on a 5 mile walk from Long Branch to Bradley Beach in wet snow.
Shoes, Boots, Gloves, Hats, Socks, and Backpack
Unless you live in Thunder Bay or Buffalo, you probably don’t need a pair of Baffin or Sorel extreme cold winter boots; I’ve worn Sorel boots going back to my childhood but my pair of Sorel Caribou boots are for shoveling the driveway or walking over to the local 7-Eleven during a blizzard.
Don’t walk a few miles in these unless you’re being chased by some alien creature in Antarctica.
Merrell Thermo Chill Mid Waterproof Boots
Depending on where you live, the Thermo Chill should be okay with thick socks to keep you warm and dry. If you’re in Minnesota or Montreal, Keen makes warmer boots rated down to like -25 degrees Fahrenheit.
The tread on these is excellent on the snow and ice-covered sidewalks of New York City and have proven to be dependable even in the slush. An excellent pair of boots that are great for long hikes and walks in the city.
On Cloud Waterproof Running Shoes
I own 3 pairs of On running shoes and consider them the best for my feet and running routine. They are beyond comfortable; although they do run a tad small and I always order the larger size (size 12) because I need room for my socks.
The Cloud Waterproof is for those wet snow or rainy days when you want excellent transaction but don’t need a heavy boot.
The prices are definitely not low but the quality is there; I’m very hard on shoes and boots and have not considered anything else for a few years. Great travel shoes as well.
North Face Apex+ Etip Gloves
These are an excellent value for the money and work great with smart phones, but they are not designed for really cold weather; Montreal, Traverse City, or Calgary. They are fine for New Jersey with wet snow but not my first choice for a heavy snow fall or really cold temperatures when you are going to be walking outside for a few hours.
Outdoor Research Carbide Sensor Gloves
$115 for gloves? Are you nuts?
I’ve used these in some brutally cold weather and while the bulk might bother some people, wearing these waterproof and almost windproof gloves is just smart if your’e going hiking or record shopping in the big city.
Your mother made you wear gloves like these when you were a kid but they became wet and had to be dried on the radiator and shrunk after a month.
Excellent with your iPhone and designed to prevent frostbite.
Smartwool Merino Sport 250 Reversible Beanie
The Sport 250 is super warm and lightweight and perfect if you have a huge head and a lot of hair. It’s a tad snug but it also covers your ears.
Filson Watch Cap Beanie
100% wool watch cap that looks very stylish and can roll down and cover your ears. Works well with IEMs. Definitely on the pricier side — you are paying for the name.
Smartwool PhD Nordic Light Elite Sock
When did socks become so expensive? Sigh. I use these for running even though they are not super thin. Warm and very durable.
Technics DJ Record Bag
I’ve never purchased 50 records at one time from any store but this bag can handle it and it’s designed for life on the road. You can carry it over your shoulder or on your back with the different strap options and it has some additional pockets for snacks and your empty coffee tumbler. It’s a nylon bag that has proven durable and well designed.